Discussion conferences were held yearly, and this year it just so happened to be hosted by the Qinghe Nie sect. All the cultivators were already gathered at the discussion conference but Nie MingJue had yet to make his appearance. He was not late though. However, a few days ago, there were rumors going around that Nie MingJue had a Qi deviation somewhere in Qinghe that sent everyone running around on the street to avoid being slashed by Baxia. Cultivators were tattling among one another, wondering if something had really happened to the Qinghe Nie sect leader.
Lan XiChen could no longer stay calm. He was looking back and forth, wishing his elder sworn brother would appear as soon as possible so as to ease the uneasiness within him. When he did not see Nie MingJue but saw Jin GuangYao walking in instead, he quickly stood up and walked toward his younger sworn brother.
“Have you seen elder brother?”
Jin GuangYao shook his head. It was not only Nie MingJue who was seemed to be missing, even Nie HuaiSang was nowhere to be found.
“I will go and find them for another round,” said Jin GuangYao.
“I will go with you,” said Lan XiChen.
“But…” Jin GuangYao started and Lan XiChen knew what he meant. There was already one sect leader missing, it would be bad if another gone missing too.
Lan XiChen turned to look at his younger brother who nodded at him in return. Before he returned, Lan WangJi would help him take care of the situation here. Having nothing else to worry about, Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao both nodded to each other. They were about to start searching around Qinghe for the Nie brothers when they spotted four people striding toward them.
Nie MingJue and Xiao XingChen were in the middle with Nie HuaiSang on the left side of Nie MingJue and a young, seemingly blind maiden dressed in Qinghe Nie sect robes on the right side of Xiao XingChen.
Both Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao looked relieved at the sight of their elder sworn brother returning. It turned out that Nie HuaiSang had been with Nie MingJue all along. Many were gazing at Xiao XingChen and A-Qing. They wondered when Nie MingJue had taken in a new female disciple and as for Xiao XingChen, it seemed the rumors of him losing his eyes were true.
The cultivators were starting to wonder if Nie MingJue had brought Xiao XingChen along to return him the justice that should have been given to him years ago. Everyone knew the reason that he had to lose his eyes was because of Xue Yang despite the fact that Xue Yang was not the one who took his eyes away.
“Elder brother, are you all right?” Lan XiChen asked, and Nie MingJue turned to him with a questioning look.
“We heard elder brother had another Qi deviation, I have been searching for both you and HuaiSang but could not find the both of you at all,” said Jin GuangYao.
Nie MingJue frowned and turned to Nie HuaiSang who blinked his eyes innocently before he laughed sheepishly. He was not the one at fault, all right? It was Nie MingJue who told him to make Wei WuXian believed that he had a Qi deviation and he succeeded. It was certainly not his fault that all of the cultivators here believed that he had a Qi deviation too.
A-Qing felt the two Nie brothers were being so humorous. She almost chuckled but knowing that it would look strange of her so she had managed to control herself.
Nie MingJue cleared his throat, “I am fine. I did not have any Qi deviation lately. There must be a misunderstanding.”
Both Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao heaved a sigh of relief before they both stood aside, giving space for Nie MingJue to stride forward to walk to his seat. However, when the two younger sworn brothers and the other cultivators present saw Nie MingJue was walking forward with his hand holding Xiao XingChen’s, they blinked their eyes in bewilderment. While everyone was still staring at both Nie MingJue and Xiao XingChen, Nie HuaiSang brought A-Qing to the place where they should be seated at.
When Nie MingJue had reached his seat and was standing there along with Xiao XingChen by his side and they were both now facing all the cultivators, Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao, although puzzled, went back to their seats. Nie HuaiSang and A-Qing were already seated, both doing their best to hide the wide smiles lingering on their faces. The anticipating moment was here.
“Everyone, before starting the banquet, I would like to take this chance to announce something important to me,” said Nie MingJue.
Some cultivators started whispering with those sitting near them, wondering what Nie MingJue was going to announce.
“I am sure everyone knows who this man standing beside me is,” Nie MingJue said as he turned to Xiao XingChen, his eyes suddenly looking so gentle and a smile was seen lingering on his lips, “He is my betrothed. We will be getting married in a month's time.”
Nie HuaiSang and A-Qing were smiling widely now, having no such need to control the overwhelming happiness anymore.
Jin GuangYao and Lan XiChen were stunned. They did not move, they merely continued to stare at their eldest sworn brother as though they were expecting that he would tell them it was all a joke if only they stared at him hard enough. After all, they were sure that their eldest sworn brother was still grieving just a few days ago. What was happening?
Lan WangJi and Jiang Cheng were frowning. It had just been 13 years, and Nie MingJue had already decided to forget about Wei WuXian? What’s more, was that Xiao XingChen was Wei WuXian’s martial uncle. It felt like the relationship seemed a little mixed up right here.
The other cultivators were surprised with the sudden announcement and were starting to chatter among one another. After all, everyone knew just how much Nie MingJue was in love with Wei WuXian. It was all written in the book of The Legend of Mingxian. Even if they did not read the book, all of them witnessed how heartbroken Nie MingJue was 13 years ago when he held the dead Wei WuXian in one arm and pointed Baxia at Jin GuangShan with his another hand.
Ignoring how the others were reacting, A-Qing clasped her hands together and watched how Nie MingJue was fixing his eyes on Wei WuXian. Nie MingJue’s expression was always so soft and gentle when facing Wei WuXian, very different from when he was communicating with other people. The way Nie MingJue was gazing at Wei WuXian without planning to look away at all reminded her of how Nie MingJue had proposed to Wei WuXian.
“I have a plan,” said Nie MingJue.
Nie HuaiSang, Wei WuXian and A-Qing turned to him, listening out to his plan.
“But for this plan to succeed,” Nie MingJue said as he raised his hands up and placed them at the side of Wei WuXian’s arms before turning the man before him to face him, “you must first promise me something.”
Wei WuXian tilted his head slightly, perplexed, “What is it?”
Wei WuXian could feel Nie MingJue wrapped his hands around his and lifted it up near to their chest level before he could hear his voice again, “WuXian, no matter what happens in the future, I want to stay by your side, shielding you from all the harm coming to your way. Can you let me take care of you from now on? WuXian, marry me, please?”
“Brother Xian, quick! Say yes!” A-Qing squealed with delight.
“Wei-xiong, what are you still thinking about? My brother is the best man in the world!” said Nie HuaiSang.
“WuXian?” questioned Nie MingJue, his voice so soft and gentle that it made people’s hearts melt at the sound of it.
After a moment of silence, Wei WuXian finally smiled and nodded. Nie HuaiSang and A-Qing were cheering excitedly when Nie MingJue happily pulled Wei WuXian into his embrace. The two were smiling in bliss.
“Let’s go,” said Nie MingJue as he grabbed Wei WuXian’s hand after he had released the man from his embrace.
“Where are we going?” Wei WuXian questioned.
Wei WuXian was startled, “Now?”
“When else?” asked Nie MingJue, sounding and looking as if it was ridiculous to not get married immediately.
“Not now, of course. At least not until I am done dealing with Xue Yang,” said Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue frowned, “You are afraid something might happen to you while fighting Xue Yang, isn’t it?”
“Anything may happen,” said Wei WuXian.
“I will not let anything happen to you, not again,” said Nie MingJue, his voice filled with pain as he was reminded of the corpse in his arms 13 years ago.
“Fine, a month from now and that is final. I cannot wait longer than that,” said Nie MingJue.
“And what is your plan to attract Xue Yang’s attention?” Wei WuXian questioned.
“We announce that you are my betrothed and we will be getting married in a month's time at the discussion conference. With all the cultivators there, I am sure the news will spread across the world in no time,” stated Nie MingJue.
Now that their wedding was announced, all they had to do was to wait for Xue Yang to arrive here in Qinghe so that they could kill him. As much as A-Qing was excited to attend the upcoming wedding, she wanted more to see Xue Yang die. She would never forget that Xue Yang was the cause of Xiao XingChen’s death.
Looking up, A-Qing noticed the banquet had begun. She saw Nie MingJue pouring a cup of wine for Wei WuXian and smiled. With the two of them here, she was sure Xue Yang would not be able to escape this time. When she took the cup of tea in front of her and drank it, she noticed there were two muscular men – one standing behind her and another standing behind Nie HuaiSang, both looking so fierce that she felt herself shrunk under their gazes.
“They are my brother’s trusted people, standing here to protect us,” said Nie HuaiSang.
A-Qing nodded in understanding and grabbed the signal firelight that Wei WuXian had given her. She was told that in case if they were separated and she was in danger, she should use it and he would come to her rescue as soon as possible.
“Wait, protect us?” A-Qing questioned and turned to Nie HuaiSang, “You cannot protect yourself? I mean you are Sect Leader Nie’s brother, right? You must be strong too even if you are not as strong as Sect Leader Nie.”
Nie HuaiSang felt himself sweating. Usually, no one would ask him such a question because everyone knew his cultivational skills pretty well. However, this young maiden beside him was expecting so much out of him, and it would be embarrassing to tell her that she was thinking too highly of him. Just then, he remembered that this young maiden enjoyed reading the book, The Legend of Mingxian.
Nie HuaiSang cleared his throat and said, “Well, you know I am a writer, right? So, I will usually avoid fighting if possible because it might injure my hands. If I injure my hands, I will not be able to write for a while and my fans will be disappointed.”
A-Qing quickly nodded in complete understanding, “Yes, you are right! Please do not get injured, I am a fan of your book too!”
Nie HuaiSang laughed sheepishly, “I am pleased to hear that. By the way, I am planning to write a sequel for The Legend of Mingxian. Are you interested to join me?”
“I can? But I am illiterate,” said A-Qing.
Nie HuaiSang patted her head softly, “No worries. You tell me the whole story from how Wei WuXian returned until he met my brother again, I will be the one to write it.”
A-Qing nodded happily. It was like a dream to be able to work with such an amazing writer.
On the other side, Wei WuXian took the cup of wine in his hand and tasted it, “Emperor’s Smile!”
Nie MingJue smiled, “Yes.”
“Is it my love for Emperor’s Smile that had made my identity exposed to you?” asked Wei WuXian.
“I am surprised at first, but not this,” said Nie MingJue.
“Then what? Oh, is it because you saw my flute? Or the time when I told A-Qing that she should learn to eat spicy food like me? She said you were staring,” said Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue smiled again, “When you told A-Qing that she should learn to eat spicy food if she wants to be as strong as you, you repeated the exact same thing to A-Yuan back in Burial Mounds. I found it hard to believe that two different people could say the exactly same thing. I had my suspicions and when I saw the flute on your waist and you pushed it to A-Qing, the possibility of it is you merely increased. I was not exactly sure though, that was why I had to test it out.”
Wei WuXian pouted, “Please don’t do that again. You scared me.”
“I will not, as long as you do not leave me again,” said Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian reached closer to touch Nie MingJue’s hand, indicating that he would always be here by his side and would never leave again. Nie MingJue did the same.
“By the way, A-Yuan, Wen Qing, Wen Ning and the other Wen remnants, are they…”
Wei WuXian could not continue. He was their only support back then. He assumed Jin GuangShan and the others would immediately get rid of them on the same day that he died.
“Don’t worry. They are all in Unclean Realm, living in peace. A-Yuan has grown up to be a good kid. His name is Wei SiZhui,” said Nie MingJue.
“Wei?” asked Wei WuXian, surprised.
“Yes, I have made him our adopted son, and Wen Qing is freely doing her medical research every day with Wen QiongLin helping her out. The Nie disciples are all running away from her because she keeps picking someone to test out her newly invented medicines.”
Wei WuXian laughed lightly. That sounded exactly like what Wen Qing would do.
“Do you want to see them?” asked Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian shook his head, “Not now. I will meet them after I finish dealing with Xue Yang.”
“We,” Nie MingJue corrected, “You are not alone in this. We will deal with him together.”
Wei WuXian nodded happily. The two of them intertwined their fingers together while Nie MingJue used his other free hand to pour his betrothed more wine and the said betrothed continued to drink cup after cup of wine.
At the same time, Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao who were watching the two men being head over heels for each other suddenly looked relieved. It was certainly strange to see that their elder brother suddenly falling in love again, but their brother looked so happy and that was enough. They no longer needed to worry about their elder brother having suicidal thoughts.
When the banquet had ended, everyone walked to their room prepared by the Qinghe Nie sect. Wei WuXian was sent to a guest room by Nie MingJue. In front of the room, Nie MingJue had placed a soft, gentle kiss on Wei WuXian’s forehead before Wei WuXian wished him a great night and closed the door.
It was still early though. Wei WuXian was not one to sleep so early so he decided he should get out of his room, perhaps to breathe in some fresh air and think about things. He could not walk far as he could not see the road ahead of him. He still needed more time to get used to being blind.
When he opened the door though, he could hear the familiar voice speaking to him, “What are you trying to do going out alone?”
Wei WuXian tried to turn to the source of the voice, “MingJue? Why are you still here?”
Nie MingJue walked toward Wei WuXian and said, “I am worried about you in there alone. Besides, I don’t want to get separated from you.”
Wei WuXian could almost feel his heart melt. He stepped forward and embraced Nie MingJue.
“I am sorry,” Nie MingJue said suddenly. Wei WuXian was bewildered, not knowing what he was apologizing for.
“I was late. When I reached there, you were already dead. I did not manage to save you,” Nie MingJue’s voice was hoarse as he said that, memories of that fateful day came back to haunt him once again. He embraced Wei WuXian tighter than before as he closed his eyes and enjoyed holding his betrothed, trying his best to forget the image of the man he loved having a hundred or more stab wounds and was bleeding profusely.
Wei WuXian pulled himself away from Nie MingJue’s embrace and caressed his face, “Not your fault. I am sorry that you have to see that.”
Nie MingJue grasped the hand caressing his face and kissed it gently.
“MingJue, how have you been these 13 years? I heard you had another Qi deviation. Does it occur often? Have you asked if Wen Qing has a solution for that? She is a great healer, I am sure she can do something about it.”
“Not good. These 13 years, I felt like I am no different than a walking corpse,” Nie MingJue answered, “When you died, I felt the world crumbling. I did not know what I was doing anymore. I did not understand what was the meaning of living, and I wished for nothing more than to be able to die with you.”
Wei WuXian started caressing the face of the man standing before him before he moved closer to kiss Nie MingJue. When he removed his lips from the man, he caressed Nie MingJue’s face again, “Don’t say that, please. It hurts to hear you say that.”
Nie MingJue grasped the hand caressing his face, “Then please don’t leave me again. I will not be able to handle it if there is a second time.”
Wei WuXian nodded, “I promise.”
Nie MingJue leaned forward and locked their lips together. Tonight, he would kiss him enough to redeem back those kisses he had missed for the past 13 years.